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Monday, April 5, 2010

Nothing is as good as the first time? : Originals vs. Cover.

By Zachary 'Buddha' Bernstein 

Ah, covers.  What would musicians do without the ability to re-record a song that somebody else has already done?  A cover allows a band to put its own unique spin on a classic, and if it is done right, it can become more of a hit than the original itself.  Here is a few matchups, with the original artists and the ones who followed in their footsteps, along with this writer’s opinion of who comes out on top: 

 BAKER STREET – Gerry Rafferty vs. Foo Fighters
      It depends whether you prefer jazzy sax solos or heavy electric guitar riffs.  Personally, I have a soft spot for both, and I love the Foo Fighters’ version because it packs a punch or two of menace, but Rafferty’s takes the cake with its more remorseful sound.

 WINNER: Gerry Rafferty 

 ONE MORE CUP OF COFFEE – Bob Dylan vs. The White Stripes
      Bob Dylan can not sing, and Jack White sings weird, so let us  look elsewhere for this decision.  The Stripes cover this one decently, with a low-fi sound that works surprisingly well, but I like Dylan’s use of violins to set the mood, so he gets this one.
      WINNER: Bob Dylan

WORD UP – Cameo vs. Korn
      Probably the easiest single-song call to make here – not only does Korn’s heavy sound not work with this song, their music video is one of the most disturbing I have seen since “Bad Romance.”  It is a straight-up ‘80s song, and Cameo nailed it as such.
      WINNER: Cameo 

ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN – Chuck Berry vs. The Beatles
      There is so little the Beatles did that was not golden.  The same goes here – and while Chuck Berry mops the floor with George Harrison in their respective guitar solos, the Fab Four wins overall by putting their own Merseyside twist on it.
      WINNER: The Beatles 

 I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE – Marvin Gaye vs. Creedence Clearwater Revival
      According to Wikipedia, Marvin Gaye was not the first to record this song (Gladys Knight was), but Gaye is more popular, so he is pitted against CCR.  This is a tough one – in the end, Marvin wins, because CCR’s cut sounds too ominous for a Motown song.
      WINNER: Marvin Gaye

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON – Pink Floyd vs. The Flaming Lips
      This is an album-wide competition simply because you can not listen to this album out of order.  The whole thing is one big song.  And the Flaming Lips, who I sort of respect, absolutely butcher it with their spaced-out sound effects, in contrast to the more banal, everyday – and sometimes moderately trippy – sounds the Floyd used.  Like they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Considering it is arguably the best album of all time, it most definitely ain’t broke.
      WINNER: Pink Floyd 

 WILD HORSES – The Rolling Stones vs. Susan Boyle
      You’re kidding me, right?  Susan, dahling…it’s the Rolling Stones!  You got famous for a Les Miz tune!  You’re in the wrong genre!
      WINNER: The Rolling Stones 
      COVERS: 1
      The Beatles score one cover win, and that is it.  Generally, the message is clear: If a song is big enough that you are considering doing a cover of it, it is probably good enough on its own.  If you have any other covers in mind, or if you think I’m a complete moron for any particular choice, please post in the comments section.

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